Swine Flu Panic Time?

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Should you panic over an impending swine flu pandemic? It's early days yet, so it's hard to tell. So far reports suggest that a couple of thousand people in Mexico have suffered from the malady and that more than 150 people there may have died of it. On the other hand, all of the cases (around 50) so far identified in the U.S. have been mild and no one has died.

How dangerous this outbreak will be depends on a number of factors including the virus' inherent deadliness and its ease of transmission. Why the virus seems to be killing people in Mexico and not elsewhere is a puzzle. One often mentioned concern is that this new flu virus may set off a "cytokine storm" in younger adults who have strong immune systems. Basically, strong immune systems overreact causing organ failure. However, reports that 20 or so American high school students have come down with mild versions of the disease suggest that such fears may be premature. 

On the other, preliminary information indicates that the virus may transmit fairly easily from person to person. Some have suggested that quarantine might be used to stem its spread, but quarantine will be ineffective if the disease is passed on before symptoms occur. 

In 1976, the Ford administration orchestrated a massive vaccination campaign against a version of the swine flu that infected 7 soldiers and killed one at Fort Dix in New Jersey. That pandemic never occurred. The current outbreak has already spread to as many as 20 countries and the World Health Organization says that it cannot be contained

While it will take several months to produce a vaccine against the disease, the good news is that the Centers for Disease Control say that it can be effectively treated using the anti-flu virus drugs Tamiflu and Relenza. In addition, it may also be good news for the U.S. that we are now moving into the summer months since some recent research found that influenza transmission is much higher when relative humidity is lower such as it is indoors during the winter months. 

I am away from home traveling (lots of flights) for work and vacation for the next couple of weeks. As semi-professional hypochondriac, I am not panicked. But I do wish that I had thought to pack my stockpile of Tamiflu. You know, just in case. 

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  1. I’ve beaten Mega-AIDS; I have no fear of the swine flu.

  2. Bullshit, Epi. One spoonful of super-AIDS in your butt, and you’re dead in 5 years.

  3. I tell you what: it’ll be swine flu panic time when we all start dreaming of a dark man calling us to Las Vegas.

    1. I guess then we’ll have to take The Stand, huh? 🙂

  4. Beware the Mega-AIDS. Watch the trees and electrical lines carefully. A man with a coat on is the enemy. Shoot!

  5. Not to threadjack or anything, but:

    The brakes have just come off the Obama Train: Arlen Specter is switching to D, and once Al Franken is seated, the Dems will have a filibuster-proof majority in the House.

  6. Yo, fuck Arlen Specter.

    Apologies, X. Your meme is bigger than you.

  7. Swine flu? Pssh.

    Our fathers came across the prairie, fought Indians, fought drought, fought locusts, fought Dix – remember when Richard Dix came in here and tried to take over this town?

  8. The brakes have just come off the Obama Train

    Wildcard, bitches! Yee haw?

  9. ‘S ok, Warty. I got to say it in the official Specter thread.

  10. X, you’ve seen that guy too?

    I thought dreaming about Jamey Sheridan was a little odd.

  11. Wildcard, bitches! Yee haw?

    Now you’re just talking like Foghorn Leghorn!

  12. I think it’s just come down to who I want to hear bitching less. So, from that point of view: GO OBAMA. I’d rather hear right-wing grousing than left-wing Bushitlerburton whining.

    I’ll just numb myself with porn and wait to die.

  13. More than 1500 people have been sickened, and almost 100 dead, in the cess pool they call Mexico. Obviously, the exact same thing will happen here. You say our shantytowns can fight it better? RACIST!

  14. Damn, why couldn’t Mother Abagail have picked Vegas, and Flagg have picked and already pre-existing hell hole like New Jersey?

  15. I’m excited. This is the closest to a zombie invasion we have ever come! I’ve been preparing for this for decades.

  16. [desolate NYC street, day]

    [slow pan over trash and bodies in street completely empty of pedestrians]

    [slow track down street. Dramatic pause at NYT/WSJ vending machine in distance. Dramatic zoom to headline: We Must Have Open Borders.]

    The End

  17. Why the virus seems to be killing people in Mexico and not elsewhere is a puzzle. One often mentioned concern is that this new flu virus may set off a “cytokine storm” in younger adults who have strong immune systems. Basically, strong immune systems overreact causing organ failure.

    Yeah, but that diagnosis won’t come until the last 10 minutes of the show. Before that, we have to wade through guesses of Sarcoidosis, cancer, Lupus, faking it and myasthenia gravis.

    But along the way, we get to watch 13, Cuddy and Cameron, so it’s all worth it.

  18. Lonewacko, I’ll put this in language you can understand:

    (a) If there were OpenBorders, MexicanPeople would voluntarily come in through BorderCheckpoints where we could screen them for InfectiousDiseases.

    (b) If you want to prevent spread of InfluenzaViruses, you’d have to shut down the AmericanBorder to all ForeignTravel by AmericanCitizens. Do you think this would be desirable?

  19. Why panic over swine flu? Global warmening is going to kill us all anyway.

  20. JW | April 28, 2009, 1:39pm | #

    Win.

  21. “Why the virus seems to be killing people in Mexico and not elsewhere is a puzzle.”

    Perhaps it has everything to do with their incredibly shitty government hospitals, which is why SARS did most of its damage in China, some in Cananda, and not much of anything here, because they got the patients to isolation quickly and followed proper procedure.

  22. Does catching swine flu upset Muslims and Jews more than people without the anti-pig animus?

  23. Actually, that should just be pig animus. Sorry for the repetitious redundancy.

  24. See here and here concerning the related media overkill/hypocrisy.

  25. “How dangerous this outbreak will be depends on a number of factors including the virus’ inherent deadliness and its ease of transmission.”

    Actually, how dangerous this outbreak will be depends on how much the Government will use it to further errode what little is left of our liberties. Excuse to nationalize health care in the name of stopping a phantom pandemic, perhaps.

    Quick Congress, there’s no time to wait! People, nay, Children are dying of the flu. We must act NOW!!!!!!!!!

    So, the real question is: How many people die of ordinary flu in a given year? How many have died from this one? Yeah…..about 1,000 to 1 so far.

    Phffffftttttt….bull shit, lame ass so called pandemic.

  26. What’s better – Lonewacko’s inanity, or his delusions of importance?

  27. I think that the fact American’s aren’t intestinally challenged by shitty water may have something to do with American’s not dying from the pigflu.

  28. What’s better – Lonewacko’s inanity, or his delusions of importance?

    I celebrate the guy’s entire collection.

  29. A swine flu virus by any other name would be as porcine?

    I’ve been imagining infected Jews and Muslims going insane with despair over the uncleanliness of harboring a teeny little virus carrying a teeny patch of porcine DNA.

    How do you cleanse yourself of that?!?

  30. I see. So stigmatizing Spaniards in 1918 and Mexicans in 2009 by associating them with killer flus is okay, just so long as no porcine references are made.

    Humanity is messed up in the head.

  31. Well, really. Why cast aspersions on the poor swine, when the strain carries avian and human DNA, too?

    I’m sure innocent birds everywhere were offended by the avian praenomen. Didn’t you notice the significant uptick in bird droppings on cars during the bird flu epidemic?

  32. Kent Brockman: Doctor, without knowing the reason for the panic, would you say it’s time for viewers to crack open each other’s heads and feast on the goo inside?

    Doctor: Yes I would, Kent.

  33. Before that, we have to wade through guesses of Sarcoidosis, cancer, Lupus, faking it and myasthenia gravis.

    They finally had a patient with sarcoidosis last night. Since I have that, I’ve been waiting (5 seasons) for those bastards to stop screwing around and finally give it to someone.

  34. It’s not lupus.

  35. Now, if they could just get 13 to drink a shot out of Cuddy’s cleavage and take a slice of lime from her mouth, it would be all good. Very, very, all good.

    Or get Cuddy to drink a shot, etc. I’m not picky that way.

  36. I think House would support that.

  37. My favorite image from this latest effort by the CDC to boost its budget and CNN’s effort to boost its sagging ratings is that of Dr. Sanjay Gupta, wearing a little mask around his neck while “reporting” on the killer swine flu.

    Appears we were spared the fate of Dr. Gupta as surgeon general, in which job he would have had an even bigger to stage on which to practice cable-babble’s scare-’em-to-death ratings formula.

    And, re: Ron Bailey’s observation: “One often mentioned concern is that this new flu virus may set off a ‘cytokine storm’ in younger adults who have strong immune systems. Basically, strong immune systems overreact causing organ failure.”

    RON! Young adults do NOT have STRONG IMMUNE SYSTEMS, when it comes to encountering new pathogens; in fact, young adults often get sick from viruses because their bodies haven’t written the software to combat the long list of pathogens produced on the plant.

    And, FINALLY (I promise): Why–in Mexico, a third world country, with a great many human hosts suffering from mal-nutrition; lacking clean, non-pathogen-polluted drinking water; and suffering from the fear, anxiety and depression visited on them by our glorious Gringo War on Drugs–why does it surprise anyone that a few hundred human hosts died there, while a few dozen well-fed and exercised New York kids just got a tummy ache?

    Damn. I feel better already, with no TamiFlu and no cute little face mask, Sanjay.

  38. “hmmm” ever read “Z wars, the oral history of the Zombie wars”? Its by Max Brooks.

    “African Rabies”- Swine Flu……

    Oh and by the way, washing your hands, not picking your nose, and avoiding people with splattering coughs is the EAIEST way to avoid any FLU.

  39. why does it surprise anyone that a few hundred human hosts died there, while a few dozen well-fed and exercised New York kids just got a tummy ache?

    Because to acknowledge the reality of those living conditions only serves the authorities two possible purposes: to separate your money from you to pay despots to be nicer, or to point out that creeping capitalism is the obvious cause of their woes (even though the government wouldn’t even allow factories to be built in the border lands, where most people are on the dole or worse, until a single-digit number of years ago).

    Any other purpose is not legitimate, therefore the only possible purpose would be to imply that they are inferior, therefore it would be racist.

  40. I heart Terry!

  41. >>MEXICO CITY (AFP) – Some two million residents of Mexico City on Thursday [April 9]began 36 hours without water under an emergency plan over Easter vacation to respond to a record drop in water supply and to work on repairs.

    The cuts, in the giant city of some 20 million that once sat on lakes, coincide with Semana Santa, Mexico’s second most important holiday season when many leave the city.

    They are part of a five-month emergency rationing plan announced in January, and include repairs to stop massive leaks in the distribution network of one of the main water supply systems.

  42. “Speaking at a news conference at a hospital in central Israel, Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman said the reference to pigs is offensive to both religions.”

    Umm did anyone ASK them to EAT the FLU?

    Ya because Casadilla Flu is much better.

    I love wing nuts, “offensive” the whole thing is a joke.

  43. “‘hmmm’ ever read ‘Z wars, the oral history of the Zombie wars’? Its by Max Brooks.”

    This is why I got the Phalanx vaccine.

  44. Terry Michael,
    So, how’s the Obama presidency shaping up in your opinion? Since you were oh so happy to shill for Obama during the election season.

  45. Emphasis mine:

    The War on Drugs
    is No Laughing Matter
    It’s time for Barack Obama to take legalization seriously

    by Terry Michael | March 27, 2009

    The President’s Drug

    Alcohol did not create Al Capone’s gang violence in the hometown of our current president. Prohibition did.

    Marijuana does not create murderous drug cartels in Mexico. America’s War on Drugs does.

    Surely President Barack Obama, one of the smartest men to inhabit the White House, must understand that truth-even if he chooses to laugh-off those of us who want to get serious about the need to end the social insanity of neo-Prohibition by legalizing marijuana and other psychoactive chemicals.

    WTF? All I can say is that if he looks that smart to you, you’d lose to a ficus in Jeopardy!

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